Rabbi Q & A Question of the Month - February, 2012

Question: My grandson has his Bar Mitzvah next year.  As grandfather, what role do I traditionally have?  I understand I have a prayer to make.  Can you tell me what that prayer is?  I do not speak Hebrew, so anything you can tell me would be appreciated.

Answer:  A grandfather does not have a traditional role at a Bar Mitzvah.  I'm not sure what prayer you have in mind -- there is a prayer that parents would say, but nothing for grandparents. Often, family members of the Bar Mitzvah are honored with an aliyah to the Torah (saying the blessing over a Torah reading) -- perhaps that is what you are thinking of.  You might talk to the parents or the rabbi of the synagogue for more information about what honor you might expect to receive.


Question: Is the son of a couple whose father is Jewish but mother isn't allowed to have a Bar Mitvah?  Does he have to convert first?

Answer: According to the traditional movements, he is not halakhically Jewish and would need to go through a ceremony to formalize his Jewish identity before celebrating Bar Mitzvah. According to the liberal movements, however, it is possible that such children could celebrate Bar Mitzvah without such a ceremony, but it might depend on whether he was given a Jewish education.  If the couple is affiliated with a Reform synagogue, they should speak to the rabbi about this matter.

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